Former UFC fighter wakes up from coma two days after rare emergency surgery

Yahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports
Angela Magana is in a coma after emergency surgery in Puerto Rico. (Photo by Mitch Viquez/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Angela Magana is in a coma after emergency surgery in Puerto Rico. (Photo by Mitch Viquez/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Former UFC strawweight Angela Magana was in a coma for two days after complications from the anesthesia during emergency surgery, according to her coach.

Gabriel Lamastus told MMA Junkie the fighter was experiencing back pain ahead of “Combate 35: Reinas,” scheduled for April 26 against Kyra Batara. Magana tried to train through it but the pain was too much.

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Update: Magana wakes up from coma

Magana is now recovering after waking up from being in a coma for two days, Lamastus told MMA Junkie on Thursday afternoon around 1:30 p.m. ET. He said she has been able to talk and began showing improvement that morning.

“Angela is responding to the treatment and is waking up!!!,” Lamastus wrote in a text message to MMA Junkie. “We are over joyed (sic). She has been in and out of it.”

Magana shared an emotional video to her YouTube page on Friday, thanking fans and supporters for standing by her and vowing to make a full recovery.

“Hi, guys. I’m awake. I still feel very tired. Like, I can barely open my eyes,” Magana said in the video. “But thank you everybody for thinking about me. I feel like I’m a very rich woman because I have a lot of time. Look what happened, I almost lost all my time. But to take time to wish somebody well, what do we do with time? We make money. So time’s more valuable than money.

“So, thank you to everybody who took the time to wish me well. I’m going to make a full recovery. The problem was just the anesthesia. The disc procedure and cauda equina stuff was better than they thought. So, the surgery was great, it was just the anesthesia. I’m going to get better, and I’ll be fighting again soon. Nothing will stop me, man. And Combate Americas has been so good to me. Thank you.”

Magana suffers rare disorder

Magana, 35, was injured April 7 during training, per MMA Junkie, and was diagnosed with a herniated disc. She attempted to train through it, taking medication and a nerve block, but it caused a rare neurological disorder, per her coaches.

Magana was diagnosed on Tuesday with cauda equina syndrome, which occurs when the bundle of nerves below the end of the spinal cord is damaged. She was sent to emergency surgery in her hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Magana shared the news on Twitter beforehand and asked her coaching staff to share videos from pre-op.

In one, Magana said it was a very rare surgery with a “couple of hours of recovery before I open my eyes.”

Around 8 p.m. ET, 14 hours after Magana shared news of her surgery, the coaching staff shared via Magana’s account that the hospital staff was having trouble waking her.

Anesthesia causes complications

As of Wednesday afternoon, it had been approximately 26 hours since Magana went in for surgery and 19 since the coaching staff first relayed any sign of a complication.

"She's in a coma, and we're waiting to hear some positive news," Lamastus told MMA Junkie. "The surgery went fine. The problem was anesthesia. It's very rare that patients react bad to anesthesia, but it does happen, and I guess this is one of those rare cases. But I'm being positive. She'll be fine, and she'll wake up. She's a fighter. I'm just staying positive."

Anesthesia complications are rare and death related to anesthesia is even more rare, according to the Cleveland Clinic. According to a 2016 article on anesthesia, one in every approximately 200,000 die from anesthesia. New medical procedures lower the risk of paralysis as well. Complications, mainly being partially awake during surgery, typically arise due to preexisting conditions or emergency surgeries, per the Mayo Clinic.

Lamastus told MMA Junkie that Magana’s aunt died from anesthesia. In a video shared to her Twitter account, she voices concern about being allergic to anesthesia and waking up. The video is difficult to watch.

UFC released Magana in December 2017 following her 0-3 record. Lamastus said she is scheduled to represent Puerto Rico in the Olympics next year in wrestling. She has three children.

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